We shouldn’t evaluate Christian sexual ethics on the basis of how much they may or may not “alienate” people. We have to base our beliefs on what scripture teaches, not on what we think people may be offended by. There will always be people who hate the light and who won’t come to it. We do not turn off the light so that those folks can have room to stretch out.
Recently, MSNBC.com interviewed Rachel Held Evans and Matt Anderson about evangelicals and the gay marriage debate. Here’s the intro:
As the battle over gay marriage heats up in this election year, one evangelical Christian writer is calling for a truce, fearing that the outspoken opposition to gay marriage among some church leaders could alienate an entire generation of religious youth.
“Evangelicals have been so submitted to these culture wars for so long, so that’s hard to give up,” evangelical writer and speaker Rachel Held Evans, 31, told msnbc.com. But “the majority of young Christians really, really, really want to stop with the political emphasis.”
You need to read the rest of the article to get the full picture. Here are a few responses to Held Evans in no particular order. [Editor’s note: the original URL (link) referenced is no longer valid, so the link has been removed.]
1. Pastors do need to beware of “politicizing” the pulpit. Partisan politics should not shape the message of men who are called to preach the gospel. John Piper recently preached a message on gay marriage in which he modeled how to bring the truth to bear on a political issue without being political. Listen here. Rank partisanship is one thing. But bringing the gospel to bear upon fundamental moral questions is another.
2. Faithful pastors are going to preach the whole counsel of God, even when it offends people (2 Tim. 4:2). That means that they will preach what the Bible says about sexual ethics. That message is pretty straightforward. Every sexual act outside of the covenanted union of one man and one woman in marriage is sin. That includes pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, and more. I think Held Evans confuses political preaching with preaching about sexual ethics. Both of them are controversial. The former should be avoided at all costs. The latter must be embraced at all costs.
3. We shouldn’t evaluate Christian sexual ethics on the basis of how much they may or may not “alienate” people. We have to base our beliefs on what scripture teaches, not on what we think people may be offended by. There will always be people who hate the light and who won’t come to it (John 3:20). We do not turn off the light so that those folks can have room to stretch out. Yet that is exactly what Held Evans wants to do. For her, it’s not only about churches becoming less political. It’s also about churches becoming less clear about the issue homosexuality.
Denny Burk is Associate Professor of New Testament and Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminar. He blogs on matters concerning politics, theology and culture at dennyburk.com. This article is used with his permission.